5 NRIs test COVID-positive: No quarantine for Minister Moideen who interacted with NRI group?

The Thrissur district administration, clearly at the bidding of the Kerala government, refuses to send Local Self Government minister, A C Moideen, to home quarantine, even after five of the NRIs that he had interacted with tested Covid positive. Minister, A C Moideen, had visited the hotel in Guruvyaur to receive the first batch of NRIs in the wee hours of May 8, who reached Kochi from Abu Dhabi on a special ‘Vande Bharat’ flight.

A couple, among the 32 NRIs who landed in  the first batch of Vande Bharat mission, in institutional quarantine at Guruvayur, tested Covid-positive two days after the quarantine began and on May 16 another three males tested positive. This refusal to ask the minister to self-quarantine exposes shocking laxity of the Thrissur district administration in reviewing and taking prompt action as part of COVID-19 preventive measures.

It is learnt from the top Health officials in the district that District Medical Board (DMB) which held a sitting on Saturday to take a call on whether persons including the minister A C Moideen and District Collector S Shanavas need to self–quarantine, had not taken up this matter for discussion. The matter that the minister had visited the hotel at Guruvayur, that he was there to receive the 32 NRIs who landed in the first batch was not discussed at all. Sources say DMB is scared to rub their political bosses on the wrong side.

Thrissur DMO K J Reena said that she had ordered for the sitting of District Medical Board (DMB) to review whether persons including A C Moideen, collector Shanavas and she herself need to go into self-quarantine as they had interacted with Thrissur MP T N Prathapan and Wadakkenchery MLA Anil Akkara during the Nurses’ Day events. The MP and MLA are presently in quarantine after their visit to Walayar check post on May 9 where a man had tested Covid positive.

Prathapan and Akkara are presently in self-quarantine along with Alathur M P Ramya Haridas, Palakkad MP V K Sreekandan and Palakkad MLA Shafi Parambil as they were found to be on the premises of Walayar check post on Kerala – Tamil Nadu border on May 9 after a person from Chennai tested COVID-19 positive was also present in the vicinity of the check post on the same day.

“I have not yet received any complaint regarding the minister’s visit to the hotel in Guruvayur yet. So, the meeting DMB held on Saturday did not discuss the issue. DMB which is headed by Principal of Thrissur, Medical College Hospital and other department heads of MCH decided that there was no need for people including the minister, the collector and me to go to into self-quarantine as we had only secondary contact,” DMO said.

She also said that no official including the collector had forwarded to her any complaint regarding the visit of Moideen to meet NRIs in Guruvyaur. “As and when I get a complaint, I will call for another meeting of DMB to review the matter. As a DMO, I have limitations to summons the DMB meetings on sending top officials to self-quarantine,” she said. It is to be noted that the DMB which ruled out self-quarantining for the minister, collector and the DMO had given instructions for them to avoid public meetings and long trips.

MLA files Complaint with Collector

However, in view of the DMB dismissing the demand for self-quarantining for the minister, Anil Akkara, MLA, said what the DMO is saying is false for he had shot off a complaint letter to district collector Shanavas this morning citing that before the DMB meeting held on Saturday (16.05.2020), on 14.05.2020, he had officially informed the Collector about the issue of minister Moideen, the Collector and the Guruvayur MLA meeting NRIs.

MLA says in his complaint to the Collector that DMB bowed under pressure from the government and wanted to know why his letter on May 14 was not discussed by the DMB meeting held on May 16.

“It is clear that even the Chief Minister and the state cabinet is feeling the pressure now and is interfering with the decision of the DMB,” said Akkara. “The person from Chennai, who was in the vicinity of Walayar check post on May 9 and who tested positive has reiterating that he did not come near me. However, DMB in Palakkad has asked us to go into quarantine. But, it is strange that the minister, the collector and the CPM MLA who received the NRIs in Guruayur need not got to self-quarantine,” MLA says in his complaint to Thrissur Collector.

The Youth Congress in Wadakkanchery will be moving the High Court over the issue of minister not going into self-quarantine on Monday.

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